Javaid Rehman. REUTERS./

By Natasha Phillips

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javaid Rehman, will hold a briefing at the UN’s headquarters in New York on Oct. 27 to address the state of human rights in the country.

The conference will take place during the 3,944th meeting of the 136th session of the UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR).

Iran has been shaken  by nationwide protests since Sept. 16, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Amini was detained by the country’s morality police for breaching the country’s strict female dress code, and died in custody.

Protests began as a show of resistance against Iran’s compulsory hijab laws, then grew into a collective call for regime change. The rallies entered their fifth week on Oct. 23 and now involve women and men; children; ethnic and religious minority communities; and workers.

More than 200 people — including at least 23 children — have been killed by government security forces, according to reports by organizations monitoring the protests.

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The announcement of the UN briefing follows an Oct. 17 letter by the world’s leading human rights organizations asking the UN Human Rights Council to hold a special session on Iran.

The letter to the UN was signed by 43 human rights groups, including: Human Rights Watch; Amnesty International; Article 19; the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran; the Center for Human Rights in Iran; Iran Human Rights; the Kurdistan Human Rights Network; and the Siamak Pourzand Foundation.

The letter said: “Given the gravity of crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations committed in Iran and the prevailing systemic impunity [the council should establish] an independent, investigative, reporting and accountability mechanism.”


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“Evidence gathered by a number of the undersigned organizations shows a harrowing pattern of Iranian security forces deliberately and unlawfully firing live ammunition and metal pellets, including birdshot, at protesters and bystanders including children,” the letter went on.

An Oct. 23 letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres signed by more than 680 lawyers, senior legal academics and activists from more than 20 states urged the UN to stop the brutal crackdown of protesters in Iran, according to an Oct. 24 report by news outlet Iran International.

Signatories told Iran International that the letter aimed to inform legal professionals around the world of the situation in Iran, and to encourage them to speak out about the alleged human rights violations.

Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi of Iran also urged the UN to investigate the treatment and deaths of protesters in Iran, in an Oct. 18 letter addressed to Guterres.

Pahlavi asked the UN to launch an inquiry at the council to investigate officials and those with a duty to oversee the protests.

“The Iranian courts can hardly deliver justice when they themselves are an instrument of repression, prosecuting the innocent while allowing those committing atrocities to escape accountability,” Pahlavi said.

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The UN has become increasingly critical of the Iranian government’s behavior during periods of protest.

An Oct. 17 statement by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child “condemned the grave violations of children’s rights in the country,” and urged the government to stop all violence against children.

A Sept. 27 statement by Guterres said he had been following the protests in Iran closely,  and had become “increasingly concerned about reports of rising fatalities, including women and children, related to the protests.”

The secretary general asked Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, to respect the human rights of people in Iran at a bilateral meeting on Sept. 22, and asked the government to launch a “prompt, impartial and effective investigation into Ms. Mahsa Amini’s death by an independent competent authority.”

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